Dec 29, 2006

A Few Updates 12/29/06

Dad Update
I’d like to thank all of your for keeping my Dad in your thoughts. He had the heart surgery yesterday to freeze a portion of his heart that caused the erratic rhythm. He had a choice of 1) having the surgery or 2) being on medication for the rest of his life and risking the possibility of stroke. The Dr. called me after the surgery and said it went well and that he could go home that evening.

Stitching Update
Sadly, I haven’t done any stitching since before Christmas. I only have the backstitching to do on the hummingbird bookmark and it’ll be done. I’m excited that I’m very close to finishing my Project Challenge. Only two more projects to go.

Dating Update
I had my fourth date with D. He asked me last night if I was starting to forget how to open doors yet. Not only does he open the car door for me, he also offers his hand to help me out of the car. :) While at the movie theater, he held my hand the entire time and offered his jacket when I had gotten cold. He even offered to hold my purse while I was putting on my purse out in the lobby. What a guy, eh? We had a little surprise when we got back to his car, though. He got a parking ticket for backing into a parking space that was ‘head in only’. Oops.

Dec 26, 2006

Christmas 2006

It was the best of times... It was the worst of times...

This year, I've been in the Christmas spirit since the beginning of December. I've enjoyed each and every card I received from friends and loved ones around the globe. My tree was put up and presents laid beneath waiting for today.

Happily, I loaded up the car to go to my parents house for the Christmas festivities. I jump and and guess what? (For those of you who've been reading my blog for a while, you may presume what happened.) My car wouldn't start! Again, the battery was dead. How many times has this been now? 3? 4? Thankfully, I still had my baby bro's battery charger from the last time this happened. I threw the charger on and called my Dad to tell him I might be late. An hour and a half later, he called to inquire whether I got the car started. At 66% charged, she fired up! Woo Hoo... I'm in business now!

I arrived at my parents house and everyone was already eating. They used the excuse: The kids were hungry. (Those darn kids... They think they deserve food or something!! LOL) The first words out of my mouth were: "Who in here was going to come pick me up if my car didn't start?" I was met with blank looks and then two adults raised their hands. I announced, "The rest of you don't get presents." My little 7yr old niece raises her hand and pipes up, "I woulda come got you!" Awww... Isn't she sweet? Me thinks she just wanted presents. :)

My sister took it upon herself to tell the family I had a date the previous Saturday night. The popular topic of conversation throughout the afternoon/evening was "the guy". They grilled me like a rare steak until I was well done. LOL They all had a grand old time putting me on the spot, and trying to pin me down as to when "the family" was going to meet him.

Being the photographer I am, I took a bunch of pics of my family. They blame me for "taking too long" when I set up the photographs. But, tell me... Does this look like it's MY fault? This is what I have to deal with...

We convinced the teenagers to get their mug shots done too:

And here's all the kids. Aren't they great?

After the festivities concluded at my parent's house, we all headed over to my sister's where we had a party. It's been a long time since the five of us (bros, sis & I and SIL, too) sat around shooting the breeze. Being the lightweight that I am, my SIL told me I only needed two drinks. We were all home in bed by 11pm. We're such party animals. Ahem, yeah.

11:30pm... Cell phone rings. My sister is on the other end. Tells me my Dad was having chest pains and thought he may be having a heart attack. He's had 2 or 3 in the past 8 years. He had my Mom drive him to the hospital 35 minutes from their house. One thing about our family... We may not see each other very often, but we are pretty close. We all showed up at the hospital. Some in PJs, some without socks, some in jeans. After several hours, we were told they didn't think he was having a heart attack but they couldn't get his heart rate leveled. Once they admitted him to ICU, we all went home. I went to bed for the second time at 3am, and got up for work at 7.

I thought I'd go in, do what I had to and go home. Ten hours later, I finally dragged myself home. I was soooooo tired!

My Dad was released earlier tonight, but has to go back on Thur for outpatient surgery. Seems his heart is misfiring which caused the pain and erratic rhythm. The cardiologist wants to freeze part of his heart to disable the mechanism that's misfiring. They said there's a 75-80% chance this procedure will take care of the problem. If he doesn't have it done and he has a reoccurence of what happened last night, there's a good possibility he could suffer a stroke. Hmmm... No choice there!

A side note: While waiting in the ER, I was text messaging the new guy I've been dating. He offered to come and sit with me while I waited to hear about my Dad. I was floored that someone who I've only known for about 3 weeks would do that. I was really touched by the gesture. He indeed did come and sit with me and hold my hand... for 10 minutes, after which we found out we all could go home. I felt bad that he drove all the way across town at 2am to sit with me for 10 minutes. Know what he said? He told me, "I'd rather come and sit with you for 10 minutes than you wanting me to be here and not be here at all." Isn't that the sweetest thing?

Dec 20, 2006

The Tree Is Up!

I just spent the last 3½ hours decorating my tree and putting out my decorations. I'm sure I am driving my neighbors crazy with the Christmas music. LOL, who cares right? Fa La La La La... Deck the Halls and all that good stuff!

Here's what it all looks like:

Tree with Lights On

Tree with Lights Off

Black & White - Just For Fun

More Decorations and of course, all my cards!

Dec 19, 2006

The Grades Are In!

While reading another blog, I was reminded that semester grades came out today. How could I forget that?!? So in the midst of reading, I had to log onto the college's website to see what grade I got for my Intro to Ecology class. I am doing some major HAPPY DANCING!!! I got an "A"... in ECOLOGY... in a SCIENCE class!!!! Woo Hoo! I am soooo happy. *big grins*

Dec 18, 2006

My Blogging Personality

Your Blogging Type is Kind and Harmonious

• You're an approachable blogger who tends to have many online friends.
• People new to your blogging circle know they can count on you for support.
• You tend to mediate fighting and drama. You set a cooperative tone.
• You have a great eye for design - and your blog tends to be the best looking on the block!

Dec 14, 2006

Another RAK

Donna sent me the cutest magnetic notepad, and Stitch N Hang ornament. I like making cards out of the Stitch N Hangs. Thank you, Donna!

What A Nice RAK Surprise

I was overwhelmed at the kindness extended by Lisa S. In the mail today, I received a nice package of goodies. There was the Dec issue of Outdoor Photographer, which now that finals is over I can finally sit down and read. There was also a set of DMC Linen floss that I have had on my wish list for a very, very long time. As if those weren't enough, she also send me a little stitchy gift filled with candy. It was a little basket stitched over-one. Just having finished my first over-one project, I know how stressful/tedious/overwhelming (you pick, LOL) they can be. I so appreciate this little stitchy gift! There were two kinds of candy -- Baskin Robbins vanilla hard candies, and Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Is it wrong to covet chocolate?

Here's a close-up of the basket:

Lisa, thank you for your thoughtfulness. It really made my day!

Secret Sister Revealed

The final package from my secret sister arrived. I was excited to learn who she was! She didn't make it easy for me, though! Using the lyrics of Frosty the Snowman, she made it a puzzle in which I had to unscramble the letters to find out it was.... Nancy!! Thank you, Nancy for all the lovely things you've sent over the past three months. You really made this exchange fun for me. :)

What was in the package??

• Heart in Hand "Christmas Fobs" - I love fobs!!
• Meme's Quilts "Love Joy & Peace" - Very cute
• SSS floss in Sea Breeze, Cranberry Raisin, and Banana Foster :D
• Stitchable Towel
• Madeira Metallic thread in a beautiful blue shade
• Christmas Magnetic Notepad
• Bead Nabber
• Hershey Milk Chocolate Santa - It took some will power not to rip it open and eat it!

Dec 12, 2006

12 Days Exchange

Day 12
My 12 Days partner is..... *drum roll, please* .... Misty!! On the 12th day, I eagerly opened my present and found the cutest Christmas card and a biscornu! I don't have one of these. Thank you so much, Misty.

Just what is a biscornu and what do you do with it, you ask? In the world of needleworkers, there's been a recent flurry of biscornu discussions. Biscornu is a French adjective and means having an irregular shape with "horns", bizarre, and complicated. Although an adjective, it has acquired a noun-like use which describes the eight-pointed tiny cushion. Biscornus are typically used as pincushions, however the French word for pincushion is "pique-aiguilles". In addition, they can be used as an ornament if cording is added. Alternately, a basket or bowl filled with biscornus makes a great centerpiece. How's that for a definition?!

I really like the pretty blue Misty picked out for this biscornu.

Day 11
I opened a squishy package to find the fuzziest pair of socks I have ever seen! Had I not been getting ready for work, I would've put them on right then and there.

Day 10
Ohhh, today I received a stitchy gift from my 12 Days partner. The package contained two needleroll charts. Yay - I've been wanting to do these. Thank you!

Day 9
I'm getting a bit discouraged! Every day, I feel up the package and mentally guess what's inside. Do you think I've gotten any guesses right? Nope! I must not have inherited *that* gene my sister and my father possess. Life is not fair, I tell you!

Today, my 12 Days partner sent me the cutest Christmas tin. What's inside, I wonder? Then I say to myself: "Self, open it and see!" So I did. It was filled with a large variety of flavored teas. Perfect for my snack stash at work, and the tin is SO festive! Blogger is acting up still, so I'll post a pic later.

Day 8
It's hard to believe we're already eight days into this exchange! This morning, I opened up my present and found a stitchable mousepad. :)

Day 7
Over halfway through the gifts! Today, my surprise present was a tube a Udderly Smooth hand lotion. Perfect for winter stitching weather!

Day 6
Feeling up the package before opening it, I thought it was going to be stickers. To my surprise, I received a Buscilla Brass Stitchables bookmark with a rose design around the edge. It's great! Thank you!!

Day 5
OK, I was bad. I opened this present late, late, late (Did I say "late"?) on Day 4. Inside were 2 packages of cocoa in two yummy-sounding flavors: Mint and Caramel. I've never had either of these so I'm looking forward to trying them out!

Day 4
I opened my package and found 2 pieces of hand-dyed evenweave and 1 belfast linen - all 32ct.

They are called: Silweaver Coral Chiffon, Silkweaver Solo (one of a kind), and Zweigert Belfast Linen Light Sand. What a wonderful gift for Day 4!

Day 3
My neck was bothering me very early this morning, so I figured I may as well just get up. It wasn't even 6am yet! I opened my 12 Days gift and what did I see? Two star ornaments, as cute as can be.

Day 2
I woke up bright and early this morning and after letting the dog out, I opened my second gift. On Dec 2, my 12 Days partner gave me:

Two skeins of Weeks Dye Works floss in the colors of pistachio and marigold. Aren't they pretty? Thank you, secret partner. They're wonderful!

Day 1
With all the snow "excitement", I almost forgot! I'm participating in the 12 Days of Christmas Exchange with the Cross Stitch Crazy group. It's a secret exchange where you get 12 little gifts that are numbered in the order you're suppose to open them. One gets opened each day, for 12 days. On Dec 1, I got to open my first present!!! Here's what my secret 12 Days partner sent me:

It's been a LONG time since I've had Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Yummy! I love these things!! Guess what I'll be munching on tonight while watching movies?

Yummy Gingerbread Man

Challenge Project #4: I made this 3x3” ornament for Amy in NY as part of the 12 Days of Christmas exchange on the Cross Stitch Crazy board. Designed by Maria Diaz, “Yummy Gingerbread Man” is stitched on 14ct red aida with DMC threads. It took me 3 hours to stitch. The back of the ornament was finished with a red checkered fabric. I handmade the cording from DMC floss and hand-stitched it around the ornament. I actually finished this ornament on 11/5/06 but I couldn't show it until after Amy received the package.

This is the 4th project completed that goes toward my Project Challenge:

1. Therapy Bookmark
2. Cardinal Snowflake Ornament
3. Freedom

Dec 11, 2006

No Santa? Ridiculous!

Jennifer shared this with me. Guaranteed to make you all gushy inside.

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.

It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" She snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.

That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car. "Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there,
confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends , my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.

Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy
Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I l aid my ten dollars down.

"Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it. Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.

Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night , I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive
and well, and we were on his team. I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care....

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus.

Dec 10, 2006

Freedom Flies!

While I don't support war, I do support our troops. To show my appreciation, I decided to participate in the Soldier Memorial Project. This project honors soldiers who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Stitchers are provided free charts, and a list of names in order to choose a soldier. I chose one from my area.

His name was Branden Ramey. He was from Belvidere, Illinois. He was only 22 when he lost his life during the Iraq War in 2004.

This is #3 toward my Project Challenge. Freedom is a pattern by Stoney Creek. It's part of Leaflet 272 called Colors of Freedom. It's been stitched on 16ct. aida with DMC floss. I changed the colors in the poem, as I didn't like the ones called for in the chart. I also changed the type of buttons used. This project was started in September 2005. The wood frame has a beautiful cherry finish, and I triple-matted the project with blue, red, and black.

The Poem reads: "Cherish your freedom and guard it with honor and respect for it carries the blood of those who gave it to you."

Underneath, I stitched:

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Marine Lance Cpl.
Branden P. Ramey
Belvidere Illinois Age 22

With 194.5 hours invested in stitching, it is finally ready to go to it's new home. I hope it will be a cherished piece.

Originally, Freedom was to be sent to his mother who also lived in Belvidere. Unfortunately, she died in September 2006. It was by accident I came across her death, since I rarely read the paper -- Let alone a newspaper from that area. One day, I opened the paper and there it was... She had died. I thought to myself, "Now what am I going to do?" I did an internet search for the father who I thought I'd read somewhere that he lived in CA. No luck. I started posting to the Memorial groups on Yahoo. My thanks go out to Helen who did some legwork and came up with an email address of Branden's stepmother, who in turn forwarded the email address and telephone number for Branden's father.

There are hundreds of families who would appreciate a thoughtful memorial. To participate in the Soldier Memorial Project, visit one of these sites:

Yahoo Cross Stitch Our Heroes

Yahoo American Soldier Memorial Project

Geocities American Soldier Memorial Project

Yahoo No Soldier Left Behind Memorial

Freedom is a pretty elaborate piece, and not one of the free charts provided by the Memorial Project. Don't think, "I'd like to do one, but can't do a piece like that." You don't have to. The free charts are much simpler and faster to stitch up -- for anyone who'd like to stitch a memorial project.

Here's what people had to say:

Nancy in IL: Meari, your framed Freedom is so wonderful, especially in light of the thought of its purpose. I tried to post this comment to your blog, but Google is still being crummy with me: "Meari, what a beautiful and heartfelt work of love for such a worthy recipient! It brings tears to my eyes. I'm humbled."

Robin in PA: That looks great, Meari! I'm sure that the soldier's father and family will really be honored to receive it!

Jolene C: Wow Meari! Freedom is amazing. It is a very sad story the one you have written, but I'm sure that his family will appreciate the effort you did.

Rosa W: Meari, I really love "Freedom", as I am a Disabled Vet and my DH is a Desert Storm Vet. It has special meaning for us what you did and so let me say thank you. The family that recieves that will love it forever.

Patty in Canada: Just wanted to tell you that your freedom turned out very nice you should be so very proud of it and I bet it will be hard to part with.

Helen in TN: The finished memorial is beautiful and looks like you put 294 hours of work into it! I know his family will be so touched by it. Congratulations on finishing it and thanks for posting the photo for us to see.

Kathie M: Meari, Your "Freedom" is so beautiful! I am so glad you put the story with it in your blog. You have done something that will be cherished by someone forever. It is absolutely beautiful!

Katie in IN: Wow Meari beautiful piece for a sad reason. Great Job.

Olwen: Wonderful job Meari, it is really beautiful, and a great tribute to
such a young man.

Pat in NM: Meari, Freedom is absolutely beautiful and I was so taken by the story I have signed up to take part and picked a name from New Mexico. I did not know those sites were out there. Can hardly wait to get started. Thanks for the information and maybe we can get more stitchers to go to the site.

Nancy: Your plaque is gorgeous!

Sharon G in FL: This is beautiful!!! Congrats on a wonderful finish!!!!

Lisa E in TX: It's absolutely beautiful. As the niece of a fallen soldier, I know first hand how amazing it feels (I really can't come up with the words for it) when someone you don't know does soemthing to honor your missing family member. I'm glad you were able to track his father down.

Lynn in MI: What a beautiful piece! The framing just compliments the cross stitch very well. You do wonderful work and should be very proud!

Linda K: Your Freedom is just out of this world and I love it...that is so pretty.

Wanda in Canada: Meari, what a lot of work you did. It is a beautiful piece. I read the story in your blog. You went to a lot of work to find the soldier’s father. Good for you!

Jen B in WI: It looks incredible!!! What a great tribute! I actually signed up for the soldier memorial project, too. I'm just waiting for her to send me the home of the brave pattern so I can stitch it for a family that lives just a few miles from me. Their son died a few months ago and our local VFW decided to line the streets from the funeral home to the cemetary with people holding flags so i volunteered to hold a flag. And then I saw his name on the list! It was meant to be. I love that we can use our talents and our passion to provide some solace to these familes who have sacrificed so much for our freedom!!

Dee in TN: Great job Meari. I love how you framed it too. His dad should be really proud of his son and of your piece honouring his son.

Virpi in Finland: Your finish looks great and the frames are beatiful. How nice way to support the families in their biggest loss. I's sure your gift is apreciated.

Jennifer B: Meari, Freedom looks great.

Tracy W: Freedom is absolutely beautiful - you did such a wonderful job. Way to go!!

Alison M in TX: OMG Meari!! That is beautiful!!! It gave me chills reading about it. My nephew is a Lance Cpl in the Marines too. He is over in Iraq now for the 3rd time. We haven't talked to him is 3 weeks and will be a while before we do (Jan at the earlest). He is in deep right now, special ops. His name is Brandon too, and he is 23.

Cathy in MN: Meari it turned out totally awesome! You did one fantastic job on it. Seeing yours makes me know that I will get back to mine one of these days. GREAT Stitching!!!

Glenda: Absolutely beautiful, Meari!!!

Janice: Meari, I loved your framed Freedom. That is a most beautiful piece of stitching! I am sure it will be cherished by the soldier's father. It was great you found him. You did a wonderful job.

Gillian: Freedom is beautiful Meari. I'm sure that his father will be deeply touched that you stitched this piece.

Nat in Australia: Oh wow that is really lovely. You've done a great job.

Shirley in KY: Just beautiful Meari... wonderful job, and a project you can be very proud of.

Pam K: It's gorgeous Meari! And what a wonderful thing to do for the family of that soldier. It is a shame his mother never got to see it, but I'm sure his father will cherish it. I know I would.

Connie in FL: It's beautiful, Meari. You 'done' good on it.

Nancy M: Meari, that is fantastic!!! Isn't is a nice feeling to have done something so wonderful for someone?? I too have checked out the website to see what I could do.

Lynette in UK: Freedom is amazing Meari and what a lovely idea behind the project. Pity that the young man's mother never got to see it but I'm sure his father will be very touched.

Gayle: Meari, Is is awesome, love the frame,it is perfect!

Sue V: Meari.........what a lovely, thoughtful thing to do... it is gorgeous and I am sure it will be well appreciated by his family. You did a fantastic job!!!

Marge: What a wonderful thing to do. Wouldn't it be nice if that compassion spread at least 10 fold.

Emily D: It turned out so beautiful!! They will be honored to receive it!!

Judith T in OH: It's beautiful, Meari! And you've insprired me to do something as well. I've a son who may well be in Iraq as soon as he finished his school in TX and his hospital internship. He's active duty National Guard.

Barb K: That turned out beautiful! What a tribute to a young life cut short by the war.

Anita S: Wow Meari that was really awesome. I checked some of the sites out, and am thinking hard about possibly doing one myself. Nice job!

Jo-Ann B: It's beautiful Meari - I'm sure his father will be very honored to receive it. What an amazing piece and a touching tribute to his son. You've done a wonderful thing for him.

Alis: It is a gorgeous piece. I love the frame. I also want to thank you for posting about this project. I have decided to try and do one for a soldier around here. I think that it is the least that we can do for those who lost their lives for us. I agree I do not support the war but I do support our troops.

Lisa: Beautiful, Meari.

Wadsworth: GREAT JOB!!! I'm almost on the second page of my Stoney Creek memorial Let Freedom Ring (the Eagle head with flag). I started it on Thanksgiving Day. I think the Stoney Creeks are very majestic looking but take a lot of work. Worth it I think.

Shelly B: You are an AWESOME stitcher... I KNOW Branden's father will LOVE it and be FOREVER grateful to you for your hard work and dedication. It's just a shame that his mother could not see the finished piece.

Linda H in MA: It looks fabulous Meari!

Faye M: It turned out awesome. Keep up the good work.

Viv in UK: It's really beautiful Meari - congratulations. I'm sure it will be cherished.

Jan: Hi Meari, It is Beautiful... Good job

Leah: Meari, that is absolutely beautiful!! Seeing that young man in your blog just brought tears to my eyes. Your wonderful work will be received, I’m sure, with tears and appreciation. Wonderful work!!

Amanda W: What a lovely thing to do Meari, i'm sure his Father will be thrilled and touched by your dedication and thoughtfulness.

Leslie: Meari, you did a fantastic job, you can be proud along with being
excited and what a great cause.

Janice: That is absolutely beautiful.I would love to do one for the fallen soldier from my hometown who's son works with my son.Thank you for the info and I will check it out further.

Marcy: It looks great Meari. You should be extremely proud of this piece. Congrats!

Petra: This is a very pretty piece. I think his father will cherish it forever.

Kelly in UK: Absolutely stunning Meari! He was so handsome... and so young...

Marge B: Your Freedom is absolutly beautiful. I am sure that his father will absolutly treasure it for years to come. I am sure, that after his mother passed away, she was there in spirit with you as you worked on it, guiding and encouraging you.

Denise R: Wow Meari! Very nice! Tell us more about the Soldier Memorial project. It sounds like a really great idea.

Lynne Mc: Meari, it is stunning. I'm sure his father will treasure it.

Kim H in NY: That is absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful kind thing to do.

Michelle M in NC: That is an absolutely stunning piece! GREAT JOB!

Renee in TN: Wow! It looks beautiful! This has inspired me to do one for the project! There was a young man killed recently in Iraq from my area. My brother knew him. As a matter of fact, his body was to arrive back here today. My brother isn't taking it very well and I think he would appreciate my doing this as well as his family. I plan to bring it up to him and see what he thinks.

Tina in AL: It is just beautiful!

Jamie in OH: It looks awesome!

Noreen: That is very nice and I'm touched that you would stitch a piece like this for someone you probably don't know personally. Congratulations!!

Robin: That is beautiful! You did a lovely job!

Margaret in NY: Beautiful job!

Amy D: It looks great! I'm sure the family will love it.

Chris: It is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing and for inspiring. I'm going to check into the project.

Tami: Beautiful!

Candace: It is beautiful and something I'm sure his family will love.

Michelle in AL: That is gorgeous!!

Tawyna in MA: THAT'S WOW!!! Good work.

Megan in NJ: It is really stunning!

Victoria: Wow, it's an amazing piece, looks wonderful!

Another interesting project I've come across is called Any Soldier. It was originally started in 2003 by a soldier stationed in Iraq. He agreed to distribute care packages to soldiers in his brigade who were not getting any mail. It has expanded to include any member of any armed forces in harms way.

Winnie The Pooh Bookmark

I finished a project I started earlier this year: a Winnie the Pooh boomark. The kit came with vinyl weave to stitch on. After stitching with it a few hours, I scrapped that idea and started it over on aida. It looks much nicer and the fractional stitches were much easier to stitch. This counts as #8 toward my Project Challenge.

Projects Completed so far:
1. Therapy Bookmark
2. Cardinal Snowflake Ornament
3. Freedom
4. Yummy Gingerbread Man Ornament
5. Santa Ornament
6. Gingerbread House Ornament
7. Ascot Albert Ornament

Dec 9, 2006

Christmas Angels

This year the chiropractor's office sponsored a Christmas Angel tree coordinated by the Salvation Army. The tree was covered in tags with children's names and items needed/wanted for Christmas. People can then choose a tag and buy a gift for the child. I am really in the Christmas spirit this year, so I asked if I could take two tags.

One toddler's mother put on the tag that she really needed clothes. How much fun are clothes when you're 1½ years old? Not very! So she will be getting Superstar Care Bear, plus a cute little outfit. Care Bears was on the tag, too. The other tag was for a 7yr old girl who wanted makeup, so I got her the "Deluxe" makeup kit, complete with glittery lip gloss and nail stickers in addition to the usual blush and eye shadows. Mmmm... Yeah, if I was 7 I'd like it!

Gift Of All Gifts

Imagine this...

It's Christmas. Everyone is gathered around the tree, anticipation of opening gifts is at it's all time high. Each person is taking turns opening their present. It's your turn. You open a big flat package to find a wall hanging... a lovely piece of artwork. You turn to your loving sweetheart to thank him (or her). With a big grin, your sweetheart proudly announces it's Fluffy. Yes, that's right. Your insane beloved took the cremated remains of Fluffy, who died 6 months ago, to an artist who promptly created a work of art for evermore!

Now... I did not make this up. On the news today, they had a story about an "artist" who actually does this. Ewwww! (I wonder if the artist would do this with Aunt Susie's remains? I can't believe I said wrote that.)

Dec 7, 2006

Winter Concert 2006

Tonight, four of my nieces performed in their Jr/Sr High School Winter Concert. Two were in chorus, two were in the concert band. All of my nieces and nephews go to the same school I did when I was younger. Here's my favorite photo of the night: The school's chorus.

Ornament Luncheon 2006

Today I attended an ornament luncheon coordinated by a female employee at one of our other offices. Last year, Santa visited us. This year, no Santa. (We must've been bad!) We had a nice catered meal, played a few games of bingo. I didn't win, but the ladies who did received some nice prizes. Part of the celebration is the bring a wrapped ornament valued at $10. We took turns picking an "ornament" and then opening it so everyone could see what we got. This year I got these ----->

Dec 5, 2006

All The Way From Australia

Yesterday was a good mail day! In addition to receiving 3 more Christmas cards and the Precious Moments figurine, I also received a package from Tessa in Australia. She really went out of her way to spoil me in this ornament exchange. I was only expecting an ornament. Instead, she sent me this:

Isn't the Christmas card cute? Out of all the cards I've received this year, this is definitely my favorite! The gold box is a tin of Australian chocolates. Mmmmm! Also included in the package was the cute Santa pen (He jiggles on top... LOL) and a package of Christmas kleenex. The pen has blue ink (my favorite) and it writes really nice. I'll be using it at work until the holidays are over. :-) Then of course, there was the ornament:

It's actually a doorhanger! The reindeer is embellished with beads and the little bell on it's neck makes the sweetest little tinkling sound. Here's a close-up of the reindeer:

Tessa and I decided to put our names, year, & country on the back of the ornament. She also added her 'signature' ladybird and Aussie flag buttons. Here's what Tessa stitched on the back:

Thank you, Tessa! It's wonderful. I already have it hanging on a doorknob in my living room. :)

Dec 4, 2006

Movies & Mutterings 12/4/06

13 Going on 30 with Jennifer Garner. A silly romantic comedy. It was OK, not something I'd run out and buy or rent again.

An Unfinished Life with Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman & Josh Lucas. Great movie. I watched it twice.

Unconscious Mutterings
I say ... and you think ... ?

Hello :: goodbye
Flinstone :: Fred
Corn :: yellow
Interview :: job
Deviant :: weird
Concept :: idea
Bridge :: covered
Karen :: schoolmate
Encounter :: tryst
Biological :: father

More Mutterings

Because You Count

This came in the mail today. Isn't it the cutest thing? I have a small collection of Precious Moments figurines that I've been given over the years to represent different times in my life. I saw this one in an old cross stitch magazine and did a search on Ebay. I was the high bidder on the auction. It's called "Because You Count". The little girl is holding an an embroidery hoop and has a little pair of silver scissors in her pocket. I thought it was really adorable.

Dec 1, 2006

First Major Snowfall

For days, forecasters have been warning us that it's suppose to be a doozy. At 6:30 this morning, here's what I saw outside my backdoor. There's *at least* 4" already and it's only just the beginning! Celeste of course, loved it. She thinks snow is great!

The snow stopped. Here's what it looked like at 2pm. Forecasters are calling for more snow later.

LOL, I got the best chuckle out of someone's post to the Freecycle group:

"hey guys and gals .......... I woke this morning to find that someone had dumped a considerable amount of snow on our driveway and around the house. The driveway alone has about 16 cubic yards of it. You could use it to make snowmen, make a fort, have snowball fights, or even melt it for irrigation. Pick-up today, but please haul yourself. Preference goes to the "fastest" pick-up."

I wonder if they had any takers.

Friday Feast 12/1/06

Have you ever flown in a helicopter?

No, but I think it'd be pretty interesting. The closest I've come is an airplane, and I had a window seat.

What color is your warmest coat or jacket?

Black. It's a leather jacket with a removable thermal liner for colder seasons. I've had it for four years, and it keeps me quite warm.

Main Course
Describe your hands.

On my left hand I have a band-aid that's covering a spot where I sliced a chunk of my finger when I tried to cut some turkey off the bird for a sandwich. I don't wear rings, and I really need a manicure.

If you could eat only one nut for the rest of your life, what nut would you pick?

Cashews. Love those things! Do I have to share?

More Friday Feast

Nov 30, 2006

Leftover Floss Bits

This question was asked by Lisa, who says it's been bothering her for years!

"When there is so little floss left, what do you do with it? I hate the idea of throwing it away, but what else can be done with it?"

My answer is simple. I loop them through holes punched in cardstock and label it. Then they're put in a ziploc bag, along with a "master list" written on another card. That way I can see at a glance what's in the bag. I use them on small projects such as ornaments and bookmarks. Or, on projects that call for a small amount of a certain color. No wasting here!

T is for Thursday!

Saw this on Myrna's blog, and told her I wanted to play too! She assigned me the letter 'T'.

Here's the 'blurb' and my list:

Comment to this message and I will assign you a letter of the alphabet. Then go to your blog and post a list of 10 words that begin with this letter and what they mean to you.

1. Three – The number of siblings I have been blessed with. Thankfully, we all get along!

2. Teenagers – I have four teenage nieces, three who are 14 and one who is 15. Drivers, get off the road!

3. Tinsel and Tidings – Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? I’ve received about 8 Christmas cards and it’s not even Dec 1st yet! I’m even thinking about putting my tree up this weekend, which is very early for me.

4. Thread – I recently inherited a large amount of thread from a freecycler. Add to that the huge stash I already have. I need a good way to store all those spools in a neat and organized way. Any ideas?

5. Thanksgiving – Did you have a good one? Did you think about things you were grateful for? The weather was so nice, we at our meal on the back porch. Here it is a week later and a major snow store is headed our way!

6. Turkey Chicken Noodle Soup – I used the last little bit of my turkey the other night. I boiled the bird and made the most scrumptious turkey/chicken noodle dumpling soup. It was my own concoction made from things in my fridge. Did you know you could make dumplings out of refrigerated biscuits?

7. Time – Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future… LOL, am I showing my age? Actually that song was *before* my time. Time gets away from us, doesn’t it? Take time to enjoy the here and now, before it’s gone. Got your Christmas shopping done?

8. Tiny – That’s the size of my little dog. She’s a 4¼ lb. Pomeranian who thinks she’s a big guard dog. When she’s outside on her cable, she’ll vigilantly stand “guard” and bark at anything that isn’t suppose to be there. Problem is, she thinks anything within her sight is her domain! On the flip side, she’s the most entertaining bundle of energy you’d ever see.

9. Trash – Twice now I’ve tried to put a piece of wood out for the trash guys to pick up. It started out as a 2x6, about 4ft long. I thought they didn’t take it the first time because it was too long, so I cut it into about 10” sections. They *still* didn’t take it. Well hmfph. They’ll be taking it next week! I’m putting pieces in my household trash bag. If it takes me 3 weeks, they *are* going to take it.

10. Ten – 10 more days until this semester of college is done. It has gone by fast, and much to my surprise I actually like the Ecology class and am doing very well.

Nov 29, 2006

SBQ - Waste Knot, Want Knot

How do you secure your thread when you begin a new one? Specifically,do you or have you ever used a waste knot?

I have never used a waste knot. I'd never even heard of it until this past year. In looking at the diagrams, it seems like a waste of thread to me. I use as much as possible without "waste"-ing any. LOL If I'm using an even number of strands, I use the loop method, otherwise I just catch the "tail" within a few stitches on the the backside. It's how I learned to do it. Never knots. Knots bad.

Nov 28, 2006

How Cool Is This?!!

These are projects I've done so far in 2006:

Whew! Finally....

I finally got through looking at everyone's blogs and leaving comments. You all have inspiring blogs. I love looking at all the projects and hearing about everyone's trials and tribulations, as well as their celebrations in life.

I would like to thank those who are leaving comments on my blog. I really enjoy them! Last week, my 14yr old niece started her first blog (after she'd seen mine). For those of you who took time to look at it, and comment - You really made a teenager's day! It really made her happy to see that people were visiting and leaving comments. Thanks for taking time to do that. I appreciate it.

Nov 27, 2006

See-Saw of a Day

My day was going along peachy-keen, 'til I came home for lunch. I thought I'd grab a quick turkey sandwich. While trying to slice some meat off the bird, I attempted to also slice some meat off my finger! Quite a nice slice, I might add. I clamped down on it and ran upstairs to get a band-aid. Ever try to open a band-aid while holding onto a bleeding finger? Let me tell you... It's not an easy feat!! Yes. Yes. I *know* what you all are thinking! Stumbling over twigs and falling - Fall up and down the stairs - Now cutting my finger. Just put me in a padded room with nothing I can hurt myself on. Wait! Am I allowed to have needles and scissors??

OK, so fast forward to class. I got my 3rd test back. I got a 91%!!! Woo Hoo! After taking it last week, I wasn't so confident that I did very good. The answers must've been in my subconscious, cuz I certainly didn't think I *knew* them.

So then I get home tonight. No internet. In fact, I haven't had internet since lunchtime. So I call the ISP. THREE times! I got hung up on twice. While on hold the 3rd time waiting for a "live" person, the ISP was beeping in. At least I was hoping that's who it was when I answered the call. I complained about the long waiting time (over an hour total), and the fact I'd been hung up on twice. After she got me up and running, she says to me: "Well if it makes you feel any better, I haven't had any dinner and I don't get off until 10pm. I complain about my phone service and no one does anything." I won't tell you what was going through my mind...

In my mail today, came a RAK from Dawn B in TX. She'd been looking through my albums and saw that I had the Prairie Schooler Pins & Needles chart on my Wish List. She had it and sent it to me. Wasn't she just a sweetheart? Thank you, Dawn! It made my day.

Car & Neck Updates

Car Update
I took the car to a mechanic to have it checked out. Alternator – Good. Starter – Good. Battery – Good. He *thinks* possibly the trunk may have been left open which caused the battery to drain down. There’s a sensor in the trunk that’s supposed to let me know it’s open. The trunk could’ve been closed enough to latch and not set off the sensor, but not closed enough to shut off the light in the trunk which would drain the battery. While I am relieved to know nothing is wrong with the car, I am paranoid that the trunk isn’t closed.

Neck Update #3
I’m still going to the chiropractor for my neck. Wed night’s visit did wonders. Within a couple hours, I was finally able tip my head to the right with very little pain. Day by day it’s getting better. I am still doing the ice/heat therapy at home, as well as exercises to build up the muscle strength. I have another appointment tomorrow.

Freedom Grounded - Houston, We Have Problems...

*sigh* I was all excited about being able to frame up Freedom this weekend. After all, I’d gotten the mat boards, the glass, and the frame. All I needed to do was lace the project, cut the mats, clean the glass, and put it all together. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I’ve determined that it needs to be triple matted due to the thickness of the button embellishments. I *thought* I had black mat board, so I didn’t buy any. Nope, no black. Darn it! So, I say to myself: “Self, just cut the blue and red mats.” I cut the blue mat. It goes pretty smoothly. I cut the red mat opening and 1/8” larger – It wasn’t enough. Didn’t like how it looked. So, I try again... this time ¼” larger opening. I think it would’ve looked fine had I not had problems with the mat cutter. Looks like Papermites (termites that eat paper... LOL) have chewed up half of one inside edge! I have enough red mat board to try ONE more time. I think I’ll put in a fresh new blade. Needless to say, Freedom is still not framed!

Nov 26, 2006

Ascot Albert

Seven down, 3 more to go! I really didn't think I'd be completing my challenge so quickly. This ornament was a kit by Sugarplum Express. It's stitched on 14ct white plastic canvas with DMC threads. I started it last year and only worked on it when I went places where I'd be "waiting". I finally decided to just finish it. Without further adieu... Ascot Albert:

Projects Completed so far:
1. Therapy Bookmark
2. Cardinal Snowflake Ornament
3. Freedom
4. Yummy Gingerbread Man
5. Santa Ornament
6. Gingerbread House

Nov 25, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I had a pretty quiet Thanksgiving. My sister and niece came over. I made Roasted Turkey & Dressing, Jamaican Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Portabella Mushrooms, Stir-Fried Udon. It all turned out quite delicious, if I do say so myself! My sister worked on her afghan, my niece worked on her scrapbook, and I worked on cross stitch. We did work on my niece's quilt, too.

After a day and a half, my niece was complaining about having to eat turkey leftovers. I told her that's what people do on Thanksgiving. I made Turkey Pot Pie yesterday, and she devoured it! I asked her if it was good. LOL

Nov 24, 2006

Enroute to Australia

One of my blogger buddies offered to participate in an ornament exchange with me. Wasn't that nice of her? I actually stitched this ornament up on 10/22/06, but couldn't show it until now. After all, I wanted Tessa in Australia to be surprised.

This ornament is called Cardinal Snowflake. It was designed by Thea Dueck. I changed the design a bit and added Mill Hill Beads. It's stitched on 28ct seafoam green linen with DMC floss, #8 perle cotton, and Kreinik #4 braid. I made the cording myself with DMC B5200. I thought it turned out pretty good for my first time making an ornament out of linen. There's a few flaws, but that's what makes it unique, right? Right! In my opinion, these photos don't do it justice. It's the best I could come up with.

I re-created the snowflake design on the back and put my name, country and year in the center. The frog came out a couple times before I got it right.

This is the 2nd project completed that goes toward my Project Challenge:

1. Therapy Bookmark

Nov 23, 2006

I'm 27% Stupid

I stole this from my niece's blog. At my age, I thought 27% was pretty darn good!

1. [X] I have walked into a glass/screen door.

2. [ ] I have tripped on my shoelace and fallen.

3. [X] I have choked on my own spit.

4. [X] I've seen the Matrix a bunch of times and still don't get it.

5. [ ] I type only with my pointer fingers.

6. [X] I have caught something on fire.

7. [ ] I've told a cop to buzz off and gotten screwed for it.

8. [ ] I have attempted to sip out of a straw but it accidently went into
my nose, rather than my mouth.

9. [ ] I have thought of something funny that happened yesterday, and
laughed out loud and people looked at me weird.

10. [X] I've caught myself drooling.

11. [ ] I've accidentally caused an explosion.

12. [ ] If someone says the word "fart", I can't help but laugh.

13. [ ] I've been into a "Do Not Enter" one way road plenty of times.

14. [ ] Sometimes I just...stop thinking, & zone out.

15. [ ] Is it POSSIBLE to lick your elbow?

16. [ ] I just tryed to lick my elbow.

17. [ ] People often shake their heads and walk away from me.

18. [ ] People often tell me to use my "inside voice"

19. [ ] Gum has fallen out of my mouth while talking.

20. [ ] I use my fingers to do simple math.

21. [X] I've jumped off a moving bicycle.

22. [ ] I ate a bug for $5 or less.

23. [X] I'm taking this test when I should be doing something more

24. [ ] I repost chain letters because I'm scared of what they threaten
will happen if I don't.

25. [ ] I've removed my pants when I was with friends.

26. [ ] I've ran around naked when I was with friends.

27. [ ] I've searched all over the place for something, and then realized
it was in my hand the whole time.

28. [ ] I break a lot of things.

29. [ ] My friends know not to use big words on me.

30. [ ] I put my head to the side when I'm confused.

31. [X] Sometimes I start telling a story and suddenly forget what I'm
talking about.

32. [X] I've fallen out of my chair before.

33. [ ] When I'm laying in bed, I sometimes stare at the ceiling and try to
find pictures and words in the texture.

Tally up your number of x's. MULTIPLY THAT NUMBER BY 3 TO GET YOUR PERCENTAGE. Repost this as "I am __% stupid”.

Gingerbread House Ornament

Here's #6 toward my Challenge Project. It's stitched on 14ct red aida with DMC floss and #032 Kreinik Blending Filament. The photo doesn't show it well, but the BF makes the white snow all glittery. The pattern came from the Leisure Arts book called 250 Christmas Quickies. It took me about 8 hours to stitch it up. The cording is handmade from DMC floss 3865 and 304.

Projects Completed so far:
1. Therapy Bookmark
2. Cardinal Snowflake Ornament
3. Freedom
4. Yummy Gingerbread Man Ornament
5. Santa Ornament